I remember hearing a Catholic speaker talking about the saints and offering encouragement for people to follow in their footsteps and not get discouraged in life. He kept saying, “Remember, the saints were just like you and me. They were no different than us when they were alive. They had many imperfections and struggles to deal with. They got angry, impatient, and faced all the same temptations we do.” Which prompted my thought, “Well if they were just the same as me, then what’s the difference? What made them saints? What am I supposed to be working for?”
Living a good Catholic life is not easy these days because everything seems to be stacked against you. Divorce multiplies that difficulty in stunningly exponential ways, especially if you must have constant contact with your ex-spouse that keeps them and your aggravation with them present in your daily life.
The pain and frustration that comes with divorce makes it easy to give yourself an excuse to just do what you want; as if to say, “The only way to alleviate my pain is to do what makes me feel good. I don’t care what the Church says, I’ll do what I think will make me happy.” I don’t sit in judgment, here, believe me. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, myself. And herein lies the difference between us and the saints, and the clear goal we should all be shooting for – an extraordinary life.
Yes, the saints were average people of their day but they were able to overcome their imperfections and temptations in an extraordinary way. They are presented to us by the Church to show us that, despite the crosses we bear, living a virtuous life is very possible.
I think of Saint Augustine who for years lived with women he was not married to, indulging in sexual pleasure and ignoring the pleas of his mother, St. Monica to change his ways. He would say, “I want to be a saint, Lord, just not yet.” But he overcame his temptations and went on to become a doctor of the Church.
There was St. Helen (Helena of Constantinople), married to Emporer Constantius and mother of St. Constantine the Great. Helen was divorced in a most high-profile and disgraceful manner, yet she did not let that awful event drag her away from her faith.
I love to read about Blessed Mother Teresa, one of my favorites. She served the lowest of the low and cared for the sick, dying and poorest of Calcutta despite her own sufferings and doubts. Mother Teresa endured the “dark night of the soul” for most of her religious life, yet never flinched in her dedication to Jesus. Her simple prayer, was “Don’t worry about me, Lord, I am happy to wait on you.”
If you’ve been through a divorce, you know what a challenging prospect overcoming your imperfections in a saintly way can be. I’d like to offer you a few suggestions to help you live your challenges with virtue:
1. PFED – Practice Forgiveness Every Day
2. Treat your ex-spouse with charity and dignity.
3. Speak charitably about your ex-spouse to your children and others.
4. Offering up your hardships for the souls in Purgatory instead of complaining about them.
5. Find a patron saint that suits you and pray to him/her every day.
I don’t offer these suggestions because I think they’re easy or because I have mastered them. No, quite the contrary. I offer them to you because maybe through your prayers and effort to overcome your struggles and my prayers and efforts for the same, we can help each other get to heaven.
Feel free to send me any intentions I can pray for at firstname.lastname@example.org and please, pray for me, too.